Two West Coast-based stars – champion Champagne Room and dominant two-time Grade 2 winner Unique Bella – lead the list of 96 3-year-old fillies nominated to the $ 500,000 Central Bank Ashland (G1) on April 8, opening Saturday of Keeneland‘s 2017 Spring Meet.
The 1 1/16-mile Central Bank Ashland has been a springboard to success in the Kentucky Oaks (G1), to be held May 5. The race has produced 33 winners of the Oaks, the most recent occurring last year when Central Bank Ashland third-place finisher Cathryn Sophia went on to win the filly classic. In 2015, Central Bank Ashland winner Lovely Maria captured the Oaks.
The Central Bank Ashland awards 100 points to the winner on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks, and the next three finishers receive 40 points, 20 points and 10 points, respectively.
Click here for a complete list of Central Bank Ashland nominees and their past performances. Post positions for the Central Bank Ashland and its counterpart, the $ 1 million Toyota Blue Grass (G2), also to be run April 8, will be drawn Tuesday, April 4.
Champagne Room, who races for the partnership of Ciaglia, Exline-Border, Gulliver Racing,
R. Christensen, D. Legan and Sharon Alesia, won last year’s 14 Hands Winery Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) at Santa Anita and Sorrento (G2) at Del Mar. Trained by Peter Eurton, the daughter of Broken Vow opened her 2017 season with a third-place finish in Santa Anita’s Las Virgenes (G2) on Feb. 5.
Unique Bella, owned by Don Alberto Stable, vanquished rivals in her two stakes wins this year, capturing the Las Virgenes by 8¾ lengths and the Jan. 8 Santa Ynez (G2) by 7 1/2 lengths, both at Santa Anita. Jerry Hollendorfer trains the Tapit filly, whose dam is 2010 Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (G1) winner Unrivaled Belle.
Nineteen of the top 25 point earners on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks are nominated to the Central Bank Ashland and include, in addition to the aforementioned Champagne Room and Unique Bella, such 2017 stakes-winning fillies as Coffeepot Stables’ Silverbulletday winner Farrell, who took the 2016 Golden Rod (G2); Juddmonte Farms’ Busanda winner Lockdown; and Dorothy Alexander Matz’s Forward Gal (G2) winner Tequilita.
Other notable Central Bank Ashland nominees who won stakes in 2016 include Clearsky Farms’ Starlet (G1) winner Abel Tasman; Normandy Farm’s Pocahontas (G2) winner Daddys Lil Darling; Chadds Ford Stable’s Dancing Rags, winner of Keeneland’s Darley Alcibiades (G1); Arlene’s Sun Star Stable’s Tempted (G3) and Demoiselle (G2) winner Miss Sky Warrior; e Five Racing Thoroughbred’s New Money Honey, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) and Miss Grillo (G3); Speedway Stable’s Chandelier (G1) winner Noted and Quoted; John C. Oxley’s Pretty City Dancer, dead heat winner of the Spinaway (G1); and ERJ Racing, W. C. Racing and Dennis O’Neill’s Delta Downs Princess (G3) winner Shane’s Girlfriend.
Three trainers nominated five fillies each to the Central Bank Ashland: Jerry Hollendorfer, Ron Moquett and multiple Eclipse Award winner Todd Pletcher.
A late nomination period for the Central Bank Ashland closes Wednesday, March 22.
The Central Bank Ashland and Toyota Blue Grass headline an exciting day of racing on April 8 when 11 races will include five stakes worth $ 2.25 million. The card also will feature the $ 300,000 Madison (G1) for older fillies and mares at 7 furlongs; $ 200,000 Shakertown (G2) for 3-year-olds and older horses at 5½ furlongs on the turf; and $ 250,000 Commonwealth (G3) for older horses at 7 furlongs on the dirt.
Post time for the first race April 8 is 1:05 p.m. ET. Post time for the Central Bank Ashland is set for 5:34 p.m. followed by the Toyota Blue Grass at 6:12 p.m.
That day, Keeneland will offered a $ 400,000-guaranteed All-Stakes Pick Four and $ 300,000-guaranteed All-Stakes Pick Five.
Keeneland’s 15-day Spring Meet opens Friday, April 7, and concludes Friday, April 28, with racing on Wednesdays through Sundays. Keeneland will be closed on Easter Sunday, April 16. Post time for the first race each day is 1:05 p.m.
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